RuneQuest Cities by Stephen Abrams and Jon Everson is a role playing game fantasy supplement from Midkemia Press, published by Chaosium Inc. using material, in this edition, from The Avalon Hill Game Company to integrate it with the RuneQuest gaming system. The version reviewed is the fourth edition of the supplement; previous editions were just entitled Cities, and were generic rather than being designed for RuneQuest. The aim of the book is to help make building, and running, towns and cities better for GameMaster's (GMs), making the gaming experience better for the players.
The supplement is divided into three main sections. The first section is Encounters, which covers generating random encounters and events in towns and cities, starting with the Encounter Matrix. The matrix is divided into Towns and the Poor, Merchant and Wealthy quarters in a city, as well as the time of day, being Day, Evening and Night. The appropriate table for the part of the city and the time is chosen, and an initial roll is made. The results of this roll determine which table to use next, to generate an encounter or an event, as it doesn't just cover people, if one results. More rolls may then be necessary to determine other factors about the event, which may use another table. Lodging and stabling is included in tables at the end of this section. Any non player characters encountered are not described in great detail, but some general specifics such as attitude, class and level can be generated.
Populating Villages, Towns and Cities is the second section and is designed to randomly create buildings for a village, town or city from an initial population figure. The results of one roll can influence those of subsequent rolls, making the urban area use some rationality in its construction rather than being purely random.
The final section is Character Catch-Up Tables. This doesn't cover cities themselves, but rather helps determine random events for a character who is staying in a city but not actively being role-played. The intention with this section is to allow characters to catch up with game time without having to do any role playing, but rather generate it randomly.
RuneQuest Cities in Review
What this product is, essentially, is a collection of tables. There are some instructions on how to use said tables, but the tables themselves make up the vast majority of the product. There are many different possible variations on the results of a roll, with one primary roll generating a possible host of secondary rolls, and then tertiary rolls or even further, resulting in thousands of possible random events and urban areas covered with a reasonable degree of detail.
This supplement was originally intended to accompany other Midkemia Press citybooks such as Carse. Despite being a supplement designed for RuneQuest, rather than being generic as were earlier versions, there is very little in the way of system-specific stats. As a consequence, this supplement can be easily adapted to most other fantasy games with little or no effort. RuneQuest Cities is a useful book for any GM intending to run a game in an urban area.